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Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us


Social-networking behemoth waffles on privacy concerns.

Scientists, statisticians and religious zealots have all offered scenarios as to how the world will end: The sun dying out. Global thermonuclear war. Apocalypse at the hands of an angry god.

But there's one thing that's certain: According to a recent revision to its terms of service, Facebook holds the ownership rights to your uploaded material even past the point when the Earth becomes a planet where ape evolved from man.

In a recent article, Consumerist exposed a section of the social network's terms of service from which certain key sentences had been omitted. After a recent update, the terms now say that Facebook can legally own content uploaded to a user's account in perpetuity - even after the account has been terminated. That means Facebook can use your photos, notes, messages and personal information however it sees fit - be it for advertising or sale to a third party.

The entry on Consumerist drew the ire of many readers, and likely prompted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to address the situation on his blog. Ironically, Zuckerberg never directly answers any of the questions raised by Facebook users.

Instead, Zuckerberg snidely -- and snobbishly -- lays out the inner workings of a personal message sent within Facebook, and explains how the recipient still owns a copy even if the sender deletes his own.

As if Zuckerberg thinks his users have never sent an email before.

He then explains how users are the ones really to blame for the change in the terms of service. Zuckerberg claims that users' desire for privacy is "at odds" with their desire to share information with one another.

Zuckerberg goes on to say that "There is no system today that enables me to share my email address with you and then simultaneously [sic] lets me control who you share it with and also lets you control what services you share it with."

Heightening the post's already stratospheric arrogance, Zuckerberg acknowledges that the terms of service might be "difficult terrain to navigate" for the average Facebook user (who's barely literate, apparently). While the company might make "some missteps," Zuckerberg assures us he'll get around to tackling the wording soon.

Not surprisingly, his explanation did little to placate users.

It wasn't until the Industry Standard posted a statement given by a Facebook spokesperson which unequivocally stated that a user's privacy settings trumps all that the furor began to die down. The company now denies ever claiming ownership of user content.

A dubious claim, given the fact that the CEO thinks his users are overwhelmed by wording - rather than livid over policy.
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